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Pesticides pose 'significant risks' in 20% of produce, report says

New data indicates that most of the produce we consume is safe, but some foods have particularly high levels of pesticides.
Pesticides pose 'significant risks' in 20% of produce, report says
Posted at 7:13 AM, Apr 18, 2024

According to new data released by Consumer Reports, most of the fruits and vegetables we eat have low levels of pesticides. Still, analysts said "pesticides posed significant risks in 20% of the foods" they examined. 

Consumer Reports said significant levels of pesticides were found in bell peppers, blueberries, green beans, potatoes and strawberries. 

More specifically, very high levels of pesticides were found in domestic bell peppers, blueberries (fresh and frozen) and potatoes. Among imports, very high levels of pesticides were found in blueberries (frozen), celery, collard greens, green beans, potatoes and strawberries (fresh and frozen). 

Consumer Reports noted elevated levels of pesticides in U.S.-grown green beans, hot peppers, kale, mustard greens, spinach, frozen strawberries and watermelon. Among imports, elevated pesticide levels were indicated in bell peppers, fresh blueberries, hot peppers and kale. 

The only organic food that raised concerns was imported green beans. 

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Consumer Reports said it conducted 30,000 fruit and vegetable tests. It said that organophosphates, and a similar type of pesticide called carbamates, were responsible for most of the risk to consumers. 

“That not only means that most of the produce Americans consume has low levels of pesticide risk, but it makes trying to solve the problem much more manageable, by letting regulators and growers know exactly what they need to concentrate on,” Brian Ronholm, head of food policy at Consumer Reports, said in the report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, "When people are exposed over a long period of time to smaller amounts of these pesticides, they may feel tired or weak, irritable, depressed, or forgetful." 

Consumer Reports says the public should consider whether purchasing organic produce is worth the extra cost. 

“That’s why, while we think it’s always worth considering organic produce, it’s most important for the handful of fruits and vegetables that pose the greatest pesticide risk,” James E. Rogers, who oversees food safety at Consumer Report, says in the report. 

The Food and Drug Administration says pesticides are "one strategy that farmers use to protect plants from pests, such as insects, fungi, and weeds."

The FDA said it tests domestic and imported produce for 800 types of pesticide residues. In a 2021 report, the FDA said that 96.7% of domestic and 89.3% of import foods were compliant with federal standards. No residues were found in 35% of domestic and 44.5% of import samples.

@scrippsnews Pesticides pose ’significant risks’ in 20% of produce, according to a report released Thursday. Here’s are the fruits and vegetables you should pay attention to. #pesticidesinfood #pesticides #food ♬ original sound - Scripps News

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